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Social media firms urged to use UK-based teams to deal with abuse complaints

By Richard Wheeler, PA Parliamentary Editor

Social media companies are being encouraged to have UK-based moderators to improve their response to abusive posts, the Culture Secretary has said.

Oliver Dowden told MPs he has raised the issue with the firms, amid concerns that teams located overseas are not assessing complaints properly or swiftly.

Conservative MP Saqib Bhatti (Meriden) had suggested UK-based teams would be better able to understand nuances of the English language and therefore improve the decision-making processes.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Bhatti said: “If I was to make a report of online abuse to a social media company, it’s very likely a team halfway across the world may look at it and it’s very likely that I won’t get a response for a few weeks, and then it may even be classed not as abuse because the team may not understand nuances in the English language.

“Does (Mr Dowden) agree that it would be better for social media companies to use UK-based teams, teams that understand nuances in the English language, what is abuse and what isn’t and therefore they will be quicker in responding and perhaps more effective in stamping out online abuse and racism?”

Mr Dowden said a “very important point” had been made, adding: “It’s something I’ve raised with social media companies.

“I know many people are concerned that the moderators are not actually based in the United Kingdom and speed of response is crucial.

“Through our Online Safety Bill we will require social media companies to take swift and effective action against criminal abuse online, and as part of that we’ll put in place effective user reporting and redress mechanisms.”

Mr Dowden earlier said he had met a number of footballers last week to discuss racism and misogynistic abuse affecting those involved in the sport.

He told MPs: “To be clear, we will not tolerate racism in any form and we’re committed to holding platforms to account through our new online safety laws, which we set out to the House in December.”

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